|Armadillo Enterprises’ CEO Evan Rubinson (center) with his two newest hires, Vinnie Del Buono (left) and Ron Williams.|
Second-generation CEO Evan Rubinson
outlines his vision as new hires come aboard
The biggest personnel change in the history of Armadillo Enterprises is still undoubtedly Evan Rubinson’s move to CEO, where he took over after the passing of his father, Elliott Rubinson, in 2017. Established by Elliott in 1996, Armadillo became best known as the company that brought back Dean Guitars, reviving the hard-rocking “pointy guitars” line while expanding it into mainstream shapes, acoustics, and even ukuleles. In later additions, the company incorporated the artistic Luna line of acoustic guitars and ukes, as well as ddrums, which it extended from an electronic drums brand into a full line of acoustic kits, hybrid drums, and parts. In short, the company Evan took over had already put its stamp on the m.i. world, more than once. As the new CEO hand-picked his senior management team, though, he looked for a combination that could raise its game all over again—and for that, he ended up looking equal parts inside and outside the music industry. This fall, Armadillo selected Vinnie Del Buono, a Guitar Center veteran, to be its head of sales, while Ron Williams, an award-winning advertising specialist, stands to put a new twist on the job of head of marketing. Combined, Armadillo’s two newest additions say a lot about Evan’s vision for the company’s future.
“I felt strongly that in order to take our brands to the next level, we needed to bring in fresh talent to run our sales and marketing divisions, whose skill sets better aligned with the company’s new strategies and objectives,” says Evan. “These positions’ fates, as well as the company’s continued and renewed success, are all closely intertwined.”
As Evan explains, it was Del Buono’s grasp of the music industry’s unique features, especially at the retail level, that fitted him to Armadillo’s top sales position. In a successful m.i. career of more than 20 years, he spent 15 years with Guitar Center in positions ranging from sales representative, to general manager for district operations, to senior district manager. During his tenure with GC, Del Buono earned two President’s Awards for consistent, annual multi-million-dollar sales growth, as well as multi-channel business development and new business strategies.
“To achieve the level of success that I expect from my company and brands, an intimate knowledge of the specialty aspects of music industry sales is the first prerequisite,” says Evan. “Innate leadership qualities, an ability to relate to myriad personalities, a carefully honed repertoire of salesmanship skills, an intimate understanding of the retail and wholesale sides of the business, and a long and proven track record of success within the music industry are the characteristics that I was unwilling to compromise on. Vinnie Del Buono not only embodies these ideals, but far exceeds them.”
“It’s an exciting time for Armadillo Enterprises,” says Del Buono, “and it’s an absolute honor to partner with Evan Rubinson and the entire Armadillo family, in order to work toward realizing his vision of elevating our brands to new heights. I look forward to serving our ever-expanding dealer network in order to bring Dean, Luna, and ddrum products to more end-users across the globe.”
As for choosing his head of marketing, Evan took a somewhat less traditional approach. Over a 26-year career, Ron Williams had worked for some of the world’s most prominent advertising agencies, earning multiple awards for his work in traditional, digital, social, and experiential marketing. He’s also well known to the Armadillo team already, having created hand-painted artwork for both the Dean and Luna lines that’s been featured at numerous music festivals.
“While my father built Armadillo into what it is today as a longtime music industry veteran, it’s no secret that I did not share the same degree of music industry experience,” Evan says. “However, having grown up around the music industry with all its ins and outs has allowed me to blend intra-industry knowledge with extra-industry perspective. This uniquely valuable outlook has enabled me to combine the best aspects of two different worlds to revolutionize the strategic approaches that the Armadillo brands now rely on when going to market. I was determined to procure a marketing lead who shared this unique perspective, who’s able to combine specialized understanding of the music industry with an outside-the-box mentality and unencumbered creative approach. Ron Williams fits this description perfectly.”
“I’m honored to be joining the Armadillo brands during this exciting time in their rich history,” Williams says. “An opportunity like this doesn’t come around often, and I have been a huge fan of all the brands under the Armadillo umbrella for many years. In addition, I couldn’t be more thrilled to work with Evan Rubinson, and the entire Armadillo team, as we create unique and engaging ways to bring these brands to the forefront.”
Serving as part of Armadillo’s leadership and management team, Del Buono and Williams will both be based at the company’s expansive headquarters in Tampa, Florida. As Evan explains, it was a strategic decision to bring in the pair together: Even as they carve out their own roles individually, they’ll have the chance to forge a cohesive partnership between the key sales and marketing departments. “With both individuals sharing solidarity in their fresh and uninhibited perspective,” says Evan, “we look forward to an even deeper level of seamless integration, phenomenal efficiency, and unparalleled productivity.”
For Armadillo’s new hires, it’s an eventful time to join the team. Over recent months, the company has added some heavy-hitting players to the Dean artist roster, formed co-branded partnerships with companies including Angel’s Envy Bourbon, and taken its production of USA-made guitars to a volume that’s unprecedented in Dean’s 42-year history. Inside Armadillo, says Evan, the feeling is that adding Williams and Del Buono to an already successful mix brings even brighter prospects into view. As the CEO sums up: “I couldn’t be happier to not only have phenomenal individuals leading these two departments, but also to have a level of integration and synergy between sales and marketing that Armadillo has never experienced prior.”